Frank is used to being left out. This time, he creatively embraces his loneliness with the hope of luring friendship closer.
Lindström begins her story “when everyone walks away” and poor Frank “is on his own.” Tilly, Paul, and Milan have spurned Frank’s company yet again, and judging by their smug, sideways glances, the trio wants Frank’s exclusion to sting. Frank’s solitude is represented in full-page urban expanses, in which the white, dog-nosed child (or anthropomorphic dog?) is an isolated, downcast figure. Instead of lingering for an invitation, Frank surprises his discourteous peers (also animallike) by heading home and inexplicably “[crying] into a pot.” As Frank boils, sweetens, and stirs his tears, nearby recipe books hint at his goal: to beguile his bullies with a spread of jam and toast. Lindström also leaves increasing evidence that Tilly, Paul, and Milan may be less disdainful of Frank than they let on. When the fruits of Frank’s labor are revealed, the bullies are wooed and a tentative friendship seems to be struck. Adults may balk at Frank’s unsupervised cooking (specifically, when he climbs up right next to a hot stove), and the story’s overall message is murky. Should ostracized children win their tormentors over with gifts or make themselves likable by sweetening their sadness? Despite its hijinks, this Swedish import (via New Zealand) doesn’t follow through.
An odd meditation on exclusion; best to leave this one behind. (Picture book. 3-7)